HOLLYWOOD — South Broward High School’s Ocean STEM Outreach Program for Girls (OSTEM) is one of only 11 projects in the state to receive a $5,000 grant through the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations (CFEF).
The Motorola Solutions Foundation provided $50,000 to challenge Florida’s district-side local education foundations to inspire students through projects designed to help them solve real-world problems in science, math, technology and engineering (STEM) areas. The Broward Education Foundation applied for the grant on behalf of the OSTEM project and is matching the gift with another $5,000 grant.
“Without support from the Broward Education Foundation and Motorola, the program would have gone by the wayside,” said Maritime Magnet Coordinator Ted Davis, who with OSTEM teacher Debra Hixon have big dreams for the girls they teach at the Maritime Magnet school.
“Women and minorities are not going into STEM careers,” said Davis. “Middle school girls often love science and math, but drop out of those subjects in high school. Our goal is to make learning fun and to inspire more students, especially girls, to go into maritime STEM careers.”
Art is incorporated into the curriculum to help create fun, he added. “It is said that if you add Art to STEM, you get STEAM.”
The students currently are working with famous marine artist Carey Chen to transform a hallway into a mural of a coral reef habitat for a 10-foot female hammerhead shark donated to the school. They are using math to map out the mural. The students also create sculptures from plastic beach flotsam and discarded fishing line.
Long term, Davis hopes to raise $150,000 for implementation of the year-round program that includes summer and weekend seminars along with mentorship opportunities for students. According to his
program description, “participants learn to use math as tools to explore creative design modeling, prototype development of underwater robots (ROVs) and ocean current energy capturing devices.”
Female university oceanic professors and graduate students as well as female high school teachers lead the sessions, which include such activities as catching and tagging sharks and billfish, and tracking their migration patterns with a Geographic Information System (GIS). The program also includes recruiting high school students to mentor middle and elementary school students.
“The future of American innovation depends on a diverse pipeline of critical thinkers who are well versed in STEM principles,” said Matt Blakely, director of the Motorola Solutions Foundation.
Photo: COURTESY OF BROWARD EDUCATION FOUNDATION
GOING MARITIME: Sarah Anselme, left, and Emily Hall are benefiting from the grants that are helping to interest girls in science, math, technology and engineering (STEM) careers.